CEO Muck Up!


Over the past six months I have watch as an experienced and competent CEO of a nonprofit organisation has stuffed up and appears unable or unwilling to admit to having made a mistake.

This CEO has a long history of financially prudent management and has a good repore with stakeholders, staff and clients. On the surface he ticks all the boxes. I have known this CEO for many years, have worked with him in the past, though he is not keen to ask for advice from outsiders or consultants. He suffers from a problem highlighted in a recent McKinsey report – he doesn’t ask questions and he doesn’t listen.

Recently this CEO made a hiring decision. In doing so he overlooked people in the organisation with existing talent and proven potential. The manager hired is an idiot. I know this because I have worked with this person in the past and I have been privy to this person’s behaviour since being appointed.

The newly appointed manager has failed to build a workable relationship with existing staff, resulting in discord between manager and staff.

Mature and experienced staff members have tried to facilitate conversations with the newly appointed manager, to no avail. Within the admin area, communication is rapidly breaking down at all levels.

Those same mature and experienced staff have met with the CEO. The CEO has acknowledged that all is not well. To date nothing has been done to change anything.

What is the outcome to date. The most experienced and versatile staff members in this department are seeking other employment. In the words of one staff member, “I have gone from jumping out of bed every Monday, wanting to go to work, to just doing my job, getting paid and going home.”

It is hard to admit to making a mistake. I know, I have tried and failed on numerous occassions, but there are times when you just have to bite the bullet and move on.

In this instance, every passing day increases the damage and the cost. Regrettably the cost will not show up immediately on the balance sheet and in there perhaps lies the real problem. The CEO’s vision and focus is just a tad too narrow.

Those are my thoughts for the day.

Let The Journey Continue

John Coxon

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About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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